There aren’t many players in the micromobility market that have been around since 2014. It wasn’t until 2017 that someone actually coined the term ‘micromobility’ after all. So anyone that has been around as long as this should have a pretty good steer on a) the biggest trends to date and b) where we are heading next.
Intro Vince Cifani, Founder and CEO of Toronto-based Joyride.
Eight years ago, the computer science graduate developed the first Joyride product – a tracking device for bikes to make Toronto’s streets safer.
Fast-forward and Joyride has evolved into a global micromobility platform for any enterprise business and entrepreneur looking to set up a shared electric vehicle fleet. Think back-end analytics, white-label user apps, hardware-agnostic integrations and IoT connectivity.
Operating in 200+ cities, the mission is simple. Make sustainable transportation widespread by giving everyone a piece of the multi-billion dollar micromobility market.
Zag Daily: Can we begin with the most innovative idea you’ve seen from an entrepreneur?
VC: “One customer based on the border of Mexico and the US had a big problem where people were crossing the border, stealing their scooters and taking them back to Mexico. They couldn’t do anything about it because they were in a different country. This was when firms had makeshift GPS tracking devices for e-scooters, which nobody knew were tracked. So they put stickers on them that said ‘GPS tracked’ and all of sudden their scooters stopped getting stolen. I thought – that is so smart. That cost you nothing and it saved all your scooters! So we then told all our customers, whose vehicles are sophisticatedly GPS-tracked, to print stickers and it definitely helped.”
Zag Daily: We understand Joyride’s first product was a tracking device. Can you tell us how the company was founded in 2014?
VC: “I’ve been a cyclist living in Toronto for the past 15 years, and that’s been pretty hair-raising at times. Back then there were some painted cycling lanes but almost every week I felt like I was going to be hit by a car. I thought: How can we make cycling safer in cities? And share data with the city about where people are riding so they can build better cycling infrastructure, while also giving cyclists peace of mind if someone’s trying to steal their bike?
“So I put together this tracking device from a modified Raspberry Pi that would track your bike using free public Wi-Fi in the city. It got some news traction and then all the bike-sharing companies began asking if they could use our technology because smart bikes weren’t a thing. We then launched our own dockless bike-share management system along with all the back-end software, and then other form factors came out so we built a platform to manage the whole ecosystem.”
Zag Daily: what are some of the biggest trends you are witnessing in micromobility today?
VC: “The business models are evolving. It’s not just your typical public-sharing scheme anymore. Private schemes for campuses and hotels is a massively untapped market and we are seeing operators beginning to take full advantage of this amenity. A business-to-business or private shared system eliminates the permit process and the pain of insurance. A B2B fleet comes with built-in customers ready to ride and huge financial upsides. For example, at a hotel with a fleet of 25 scooters serving a population of 200 people for 12 operational months, you could make roughly $162,000 a year in revenue. By operating in an urban centre or in a second location, you could earn even more.
“Delivery has also exploded. We’ve just started releasing features for our delivery-as-a-service model so, for any business wanting to scale and use their assets in the delivery market, we now have the right tools and solutions for them.
“Leasing is another new area for our operators, so you can lease vehicles for a day, month or year so it feels like your own. I would also say fulfillment in the supply chain with China has become so complicated. People are asking – how do I get 100 scooters from this manufacturer who I’ve never heard of before, and probably will never visit, to my door on time at a fair price? Our automated Joyride Garage e-commerce marketplace, with local stock and personalised pricing, removes these complexities so the process becomes a lot smoother.”
Zag Daily: As new players enter the micromobility space, what will be the key ingredients to running a successful operation in 2023?
VC: “Operations are so important for this kind of business. You have to be on the ground and can’t be afraid to move vehicles around, so the key for operators will be to run everything in-house. We don’t support the gig worker model, you need to pay people good wages and have workers own the responsibility to ensure the longevity and profitability of your business.
“Being marketing-savvy is also key. The unique thing about our customers is that they have the local voice, right? They’re typically not VC-backed companies trying to win the hearts and minds of the local people. Our customers already live in the community so it’s really easy for them to connect, and they capitalize on this effectively with promos on TikTok and Instagram to engage their customers. We actually created our own fake e-scooter company to show our Joyride Academy users how to market their fleets from the ground up, so I would encourage everyone to check that out.
“The third is entrepreneurial hustle. While some of our customers live in a different country to where they deploy the vehicles and are able to manage everything from their phones, the most traction comes from maintaining good on-site working relationships to ensure the business lasts.”
Zag Daily: do you have a target that the whole Joyride team is working towards?
VC: “Our aim is to bring micromobility and sustainable transportation to 10,000 cities around the world. Being in 200 cities, we’re not there yet but we know it’s possible.
“Whether it’s getting our customers the vehicles faster through our fulfilment centre or providing the back-end software needed to gain operational efficiencies, we are trying to provide a real turnkey solution. These vehicles are making a huge difference for our planet and it’s up to us to help entrepreneurs bring this really innovative, environmentally friendly mode of transportation to their towns and cities.”